Abandoned trash bags dumped in grass on Balfour Street. SUPPLIED

Offenders risk $750 fine

Ben Francois is trash-talking, and looking to make an easy $200.

If he sees you dump any garbage, old tires, or other junk by the roadside near his Balfour Street dwelling, he’ll record your license plate and report it to authorities. When you’re convicted, he’ll get a $200 reward from the Region under its waste management bylaw. And you’ll get a $750 fine.

Francois contacted the Voice last week to share his frustration about people discarding bags of trash and other debris in ditches along rural roadways.

“It’s happened many times,” he said. “Some people are just rude and disrespectful. Recently I found an entire bedroom suite — headboard, cabinets, everything — dumped on Kilman Road, and a few weeks ago I saw four garbage bags dumped in the ditch on Balfour Street between Metler and Kilman. The garbage can attract wild animals. Maybe the Region or the Town of Pelham has to put more signage up, informing people that if they dump illegally, they’ll pay a hefty penalty if caught.”

Bob Lymburner, Pelham Fire Chief who also oversees bylaw enforcement, told the Voice that if a report of illegal dumping is received, the Town sends a bylaw officer to investigate.

“If it’s bulky stuff like abandoned furniture, we’ll get Public Works to collect it. If it’s a couple bags of garbage, the bylaw officer will normally pick it up, and often go through it in an effort to identify the person who committed the act,” he said. “We have, in the past, gone right to someone’s door to tell them, ‘Come and get your trash right now, or face a ticket.’ Most people co-operate.”

A few weeks ago I saw four garbage bags dumped in the ditch on Balfour Street between Metler and Kilman

The Region has an illegal dumping working group, according to Lymburner, which meets on a regular basis.

Illegal dumping is defined as the disposing of material in non-designated areas, such as public roads, ditches, public property, rural areas, vacant lots and in public litter receptacles. It is a crime, and Niagara Region is working with all 12 municipalities to address the issue.

Residents can report illegal dumping by completing the Region’s online form at https://www.niagararegion.ca/waste/contact/dumping/report-illegal-dumping.aspx, or by calling 905-356-4141. You may also report anonymously at Crime Stoppers of Niagara at https://crimestoppersniagara.ca.

Any person whose report of illegal dumping results in an act of compliance (such as the person who was reported illegally dumping returning to the site and retrieving the dumped materials) earns a reward from the Region of $50. If the report of illegal dumping leads to a conviction, the reward bumps to $200.

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks suggests that rural landowners survey their property to identify areas that are easily accessible by the road or hidden from neighbours, and consider ways of restricting these areas from public access. The Ministry also suggests that lighting and cameras be installed on the property, along with appropriate signage.

So what is your recourse, should you find trash dumped on your property?

If it is hazardous waste like car batteries, chemicals, oil, or paint, you can contact the provincial Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060. The province will respond to illegal dumping when there is a real or potential threat to the environment, evidence of a large or repeat dumping operation, or liquid industrial or hazardous waste involved.

An environmental officer will usually be dispatched to assess the site, make reasonable efforts to find the owner of the waste, and require them to remove it.

If the person who owns the dumped stuff cannot be found, the property owner is required to remove the waste and clean up the site as soon as possible. Property insurance policies often cover the costs associated with illegal dumping of hazardous waste.

If the offending trash is old tires, garbage bags, or other non-hazardous refuse, property owners should contact the Region or their local municipality, and ask them to remove the material. But be aware that the onus may end up being on the property owner to clean up the mess.